George Mason NCAA-bound after beating William & Mary 68-59
RICHMOND, Va. (AP)—Folarin Campbell and George Mason know all about magical postseason runs. After ending William & Mary’s string of dramatic victories Monday night, the Patriots hope to have another one of their own in the making.
Campbell scored 20 points and Will Thomas added 18 and 13 rebounds as the Patriots (23-10) beat the Tribe 68-59 to win the Colonial Athletic Association tournament.
The victory earned George Mason and coach Jim Larranaga a return to the tournament that made them America’s favorite underdogs two years ago.
In that NCAA tournament run, the Patriots stunned Michigan State, North Carolina, Wichita State and Connecticut in succession—an improbable advance to the Final Four that ended in a 73-58 loss to eventual champion Florida.
The Tribe (17-16) was on the same kind of run in the CAA tournament until meeting up with the Patriots, their smothering defense and designs on their own aspirations.
Each of the Tribe’s previous three games had been decided in the final seconds, and William & Mary had three heroes to thank for its first appearance in the conference title game in 23 years. But the Patriots never gave them the chance.
Campbell hit the first of his three second-half 3-pointers to cap a 9-0 run to start the second half, boosting George Mason’s lead to 36-26. Thomas cleaned up inside as George Mason outrebounded William & Mary 35-28 and shot 49 percent. The Patriots’ biggest lead was 14, and they went 14-for-16 at the line in the final 3:05.
Laimis Kisielius, whose basket with 3 seconds left knocked out top-seeded Virginia Commonwealth on Sunday, scored 22 points for William and Mary and made eight of 16 shots, but the rest of the team was a combined 11-for-34 and missed 14 of 19 3-pointers.
David Schneider added 12 points and Danny Sumner 10 for the Tribe, which had won only three CAA tournament games in 22 years before knocking off Georgia State, Old Dominion and VCU on consecutive days. Not only was the Tribe playing for its first CAA title, but also its first trip to the NCAA tournament in 103 years of basketball.